Hydro customer finds meter fee too high

NANAIMO – Resident estimates his bill to increase by 59 per cent.

A Nanaimo man is worried B.C. Hydro’s proposed $35 monthly fee to keep his analog meter will increase his bill 59 per cent.

S.I. Petersen said he estimated the 59-per cent increase was by taking the amount he has paid over the last 12 months – usage fees, hydro etc. – adding up the $35 monthly fee (plus tax) over a year and adding that to his current bill.

“It seems a bit ridiculous,” Petersen said. “For instance, you can hire a security company to come up to your house and check it; come inside, check that all the windows are intact and the plumbing’s not leaking etc. for less than $11 a visit. Why does it cost so much to read a meter?”

B.C. Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk said the analog meter system is becoming obsolete and the $35 is a cost recovery fee that is charged so that customers who have smart meters aren’t subsidizing the minority that don’t. He said the $35 is for more than just reading meters.

“They include, the cost of adding and maintaining resources, equipment, systems that have already been automated to new, modern meters,” Olynyk said. “An example would be working around customers without the new meters. We have to install additional telecommunications equipment to ensure that the grid can work as planned.”

He said the proposed fees will be reviewed by the B.C. Utilities Commission to ensure that they’re appropriate and will be submitted in an application in the coming weeks.